It's time for the outdoor farmers' markets season. Our two C-U markets offer great opportunities to shop local, seasonal goodies. The Land Connection's Champaign Market will open Tuesday afternoons, starting Tuesday, May 19th, and the Urbana Market in the Square will open Saturday mornings, starting this Saturday, May 2nd. We shared last week that this year's markets will look quite different.

If you’re new to Smile Politely, this column will run monthly and highlight some of the monthly programming at each market, as well as some items and vendors you should check out.


I spoke with the organizers of both markets to hear how the markets will operate in compliance with the Governor's order.

Urbana's Market at the Square: Urbana's Market at the Square will provide space to local vendors to market their products in a safe environment, as we have done for 41 years. With the current pandemic environment, Urbana’s Market at the Square, The Champaign Farmers Market, and UBA’s Market in the Square have put together guidelines in collaboration with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District for the safe operation of the markets in 2020. The safety plan and guidelines took into account the suggestions made by the Illinois Farmers Market Association and University of Illinois Extension. You can find them here.   

The Land Connection's Tuesday Champaign Market: Shoppers will be able to expect the same great local foods but in a different format. Right now, our overall goal is to continue serving the community by providing a place to connect them with our local farmers and producers while offering everyone peace-of-mind by requiring various safe practices during this difficult time. We are working with vendors to offer online ordering for market pick-up or curbside pick-up. We are also developing systems so that SNAP recipients can order online and pay on-site. Since we currently are not allowed to have on-site kids' activities and sampling, we will be working on virtual programming and expanded social media content to engage our customers in a safe, educational, and fun way.

A sunny day at Urbana Market 2019. There are booths with white square tents and several people shopping. Photo by Jessica Hammie.Photo by Jessica Hammie.

With collaboration of CUPHD, market organizers have made changes to ensure the safety of customers and vendors. The markets will have a designated entrance and exit with a handwashing station for customers to use upon entry and at exit. All staff and volunteers will wear masks and gloves. 

Some important guidelines for market shoppers include limiting one shopper per household (exceptions for elderly and handicapped), and no children at the market. All shoppers will be required to wear masks or face coverings. Shoppers should not touch produce until payment has been made. Market shoppers using their own bags must hold or place on the ground while being loaded; no bags from home should be put on vendor tables.

In addition, no social gathering will be permitted. Sadly, there will be no entertainment, children's programming, or seating. The amount of shoppers allowed into the market will be determined by the market manager. Shoppers will stand on marked spots six feet apart when standing in line and attempt to maintain six feet from other shoppers, vendors, and volunteers.

For vendors, they are limited to the sale of food products only, must have six feet between each vendor booth, and sanitize frequently touched surfaces every hour. No tablecloths are allowed.

Many onions are piled up, overflowing their container and still with a bit of dirt, ready to be sold at market. Photo by Jessica Hammie.Photo by Jessica Hammie.

The Urbana Market operates from 7 a.m. to noon in the southeast parking lot at Lincoln Square Mall, at the corner of Illinois and Vine in Urbana. Starting this Saturday, May 2nd, you can shop from vendors serving produce, baked goods, meat, and honey. Many familiar food and produce vendors will be at the Market: Allison Centennial Farm, Blue Moon Farms, Brackett Farms, Cary's Garden of Eatin, Central Illinois Bakehouse, Meyer Produce, Moore Family Farms, The Scotsmans Kitchen, Three D Tomatoes, Triple S Meats, and more. Food trucks will be at the Market as well, and patrons can get to-go orders from favorites like: Burrito King, The Cracked Truck, Dragon Fire Pizza, La Paloma, and Piato Cafe.

Many yellow squash are piled up, ready to be sold. Photo by Jessica Hammie.Photo by Jessica Hammie.

The Champaign Market operates from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the parking lot outside of Busey Bank at the intersection of Neil and University for May and in parking lot M at Neil and Washington for June. The Champaign Farmers' Market begins on Tuesday, May 19th. You can shop from vendors serving produce, honey, meat, and baked goods. We have to wait a bit for this market, but you can start making plans now to get your food on Tuesdays in Champaign from The Land Connection's Tuesday Market.

Small square containers are lined up in rows touching each other. Some are filled with purple and green okra, and some are filled with multi-colored circle tomatoes. Photo by Jessica Hammie.Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Urbana’s Market at the Square Info

The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 2th to October 31st, each Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. It’s located at the corner of Illinois and Vine in Urbana.

Forms of payment: Credit, debit, or SNAP is preferred. Cash is accepted, but vendors may not provide change to reduce the spread of the virus.

SNAP/LINK: Vendors selling LINK-eligible foods accept LINK tokens. Please visit Urbana’s Market at the Square website for specifics, or the information tent on site.

Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street. Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and at the bike corral area past the entrance to the Market off of Illinois.

Pets: No pets allowed. Please respect the market’s rules and leave your doggo at home.

Social Media: You can follow the Market on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Sign up for weekly Market emails here.

Several wooden boxes are laid on a tableclothed table filled with vegetables: califlower, leafy greens, and cabbages. Photo by Jessica Hammie.Photo by Jessica Hammie.

The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market

The Land Connection's Champaign Farmers' Market is on their sixth year. The Champaign Market is open on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. starting on May 19th. The Champaign Farmers' Market will take place in the parking lot outside of Busey Bank at the intersection of Neil and University for the markets in May. They plan to return to their regular location in parking lot M at Neil and Washington in June.

Forms of Payment: Pre-ordering, credit cards, debit cards, or SNAP/EBT cards are preferred. Cash will be accepted, but vendors will be instructed not to provide change.

SNAP/LINK: All eligible vendors accept SNAP benefits through the LINK token program. Please visit The Land Connection website for specifics.

Parking: Metered parking is available in parking lot M off of Neil Street, or in the Hill Street Parking Deck.

Pets: Leashed dogs are welcome.

Social Media: Follow The Land Connection on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or check the website for more information.

 

Editor's note: A previous version of this article included erroneous information regarding the Champaign Market location.